(or The Things My Kids Say)
One of the things I have most enjoyed about motherhood is the chance to experience life through the eyes of a child.
To them, the world is a mystery, one great big never-ending science experiment. Every day brings something new and exciting. Discoveries lurk at every corner.
(Although, I think we’ve proven more times that necessary that, yes, dog food does in fact float.)
I’ve loved watching the development of language, as gurgles and coos give way to words. It’s enlightening to witness them navigate the English language, especially as they encounter and react to all of the “exceptions to the rule” in our language. You can hear them apply the rule, and then watch their little face scrunch up as they realize it doesn’t sound right, and then try to figure out what went wrong with their logic. I reluctantly correct them because their mistakes are often so adorable:
T(wo): What did we do on my 2th birthday? What about on my 3th birthday?
It is particularly interesting to watch them find their own voices in this Digital Age. For them, there has always been the internet, iPhones, iPads, Amazon Prime, On Demand TV, Google, YouTube, Facebook (I’ve stopped trying to get baby books made – it’s all documented on Facebook anyways!).
It does concern me that they think all worldly goods come from THE Amazon. Or that the postman seems more revered than Santa Claus:
O(ne): Mom, can you ask the postman to bring me a costume?
(He also thinks the President of the U.S. is called “THE Obama” as in “The Obama says I have to be in my car seat.”)
Our parents could just make answers up to childhood inquisitions. Not us, the parents of the Digital Age.
O: What does a sea turtle sound like?
Me: I have no idea, but I bet we can find out.
(And sure enough we found a video on YouTube.)
Even existential questions are expected to have answers.
O: How did God get created?
Me: I don’t know.
O: Google it.
Sometimes they are just too smart for me, and come out with things like this:
T: I want more shrimp.
Me: There isn’t any more shrimp.
T: But I still have ketchup.
O: What if there is a flood? Is Santa still able to deliver presents?
Me: I don’t think Santa’s magic is affected by the weather.
O: Yes it is.
Me: What makes you think that?
O: Then one foggy Christmas Eve…
Yep, you got me on both those points.
When I admonish them to “use your words,” it’s not just because I want them to stop acting out or to be more clear in their communication. It’s really that I desperately want them to find language to express all of their wants and needs, which is a childhood struggle of my own that has followed me into adulthood. They have language, and a voice, and I want to empower them to use both as loudly and clearly as necessary. I do not want them, or their core needs, to be silenced.
O: I’m not going to text you when I go to college.
He’s probably right. By the time he goes to college, we may very well not be texting anymore. But, it is my hope that by then he is confident in himself and in our love and attachment for each other.
I read somewhere that every little boy should think that his mother believes that he is the best little boy in the whole wide world. I couldn’t agree more, and so I tell each boy at least once a day: “you are the best little boy in the whole wide world.”
I hope they believe me.
O wrote this on my Mother’s Day card, when asked for a phrase that Mom always says: “you are a good kid.” And it’s true, I say that a lot, especially to O. He is a good kid.
But then the other night, I got this:
O: You are this close to ruining my life.
But he does, and continues, to teach me so much about Love.
O: Love isn’t just a word.
And this, after I recently got a tattoo:
O: What are the letters for?
Me: The three loves of my life.
O: What about you?
Me: Do you think I should have a letter in there too?
O: Yes! You should love yourself.
I learn something new from my kids each and every day. Sometimes they share with me some new factoid about the universe that I didn’t know before (fact: ants have two stomachs). Sometimes they teach me something about myself that I wasn’t aware of: I’ve learned how I sound when I talk, and particular phrases and habits of speech that I never realized that I use with such regularity. They have taught me about patience and negotiation and anger and love – and how to manage such mixed-up emotions simultaneously.
They require me drown out all that is swirling around me and focus on them – these two absolutely precious human beings who I need just as much as (and maybe even more than) they need me. Sometimes I’m not sure who is teaching whom more. There is so much to be learned in this second pass through childhood.